Social Media Marketing – What Works Best?

There’s no one form of marketing throughout the social media channel that you can say works “best”.  It really depends on the type of business that you’re in.

To start things off, it’s important to understand what types of marketing are actually available through social media channels.

1.) Social media paid advertising opportunities: Most all social media sites offer paid advertising opportunities through vehicles such as banner ads. Some more targeted than others. For instance, instance, Facebook’s advertising system will actually allow you to target your ad by country, age ranges, male or female, with certain hobbies or interests appearing on their profiles, etc. This gives you the added benefit of having only the exact group of individuals you’ve specified able to see your advertisement when logged on to Facebook. This contrasts with other social media sites such as MySpace and Bebo, who don’t offer the same ability to “drill down” into your exact target audience.

2.) Social media pages or groups for businesses: Another popular method of advertising on social media websites includes starting a page (for a business) or a group. This gives your business the ability to post relevant details about your product or service, post news about your company, updates, solicit user feedback through surveys, etc. You can even engage your customers by means of a blog, and have them contribute content to it. Pages and Groups often allow you to invite people who may be interested in what your business has to offer, to join your page or group….and the more members the better!

The KEY is to offer something of VALUE to your audience.

You’ll quickly find that if you don’t offer anything of value, they won’t stick around and your social media strategy will not succeed.

Furthermore, if your group or page screams “I WANT TO SELL YOU SOMETHING”, your visitors will run for the hills.

Groups and pages are used to engage users and provide them with something of value. Period.

If they like what you’re up to, provide them with an outlet to get more information, and develop a deeper relationship with your company.

3.) Create a social media application. By creating an application that truly has the ability to both engage and maintain the interest levels of users businesses are now able to engage users in new and exciting ways. The key again, is the entertain and engage your target audience in new and exciting ways. Brainstorm with colleagues, family and friends – and try to come up with an idea for an application that will really resonate with your target audience and have them engage with your brand in different ways.

Applications on Facebook (using Facebook once again as an example) include games, educational applications, and applications to help people communicate and express themselves in new and different ways.

The “Facebook Marketing Bible” states that building an application is often the most powerful way to interact with your audience on Facebook (and social media in general in my opinion).

Application developers must proceed with caution however. At one point last year, there were over 40,000 applications on Facebook alone, and that number grows steadily all the time. It’s true that the vast majority of inferior quality and get very little attention, however, so if you’re able to lauch a quality application that can truly excite people – you still have a nice window of opportunity to engage a new audience throughout social media.

My recommendation for any company that is planning a social media campaign is this:

1.) Try some paid advertising on some of the more well known social media sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo. Test these sites out in small dollar amounts and test your return on investment. (Make sure you’ve got some tracking in place before embarking on your campaign). The more targeted you’re able to make your advertising the better, but realize you’ll be paying a premium for the targeting ability.

2.) Set up a group on some of the above sites and include as many interesting features on your group page as possible, geared to your target audience. Attract users through events (very important) and through invitation (make sure you’ve qualified who you’re inviting as someone who will most likely be interested in your group). When you’ve done these two things, provide a mechanism for users to provide you with ongoing feedback on your business via your page. (Note: This works particularly well if you’re in the midst of developing a product/service and you’re looking for rapid product feedback). 

3.) After performing steps #1 & #2 decide whether it is appropriate for your company to launch an application on social media websites. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re business sells or markets a product/service to other businesses, you may not want to invest much time on social media marketing- particularly application development, as you’re dealing with a consumer based audience in social media vs. a business audience.

On the other hand…if you sell your products/services to consumers AND you have brainstormed what you think is a great idea for a social media application AND you have someone who can produce a high quality application for you, I’d advise you to proceed.

Often, applications can be produced at low cost, and if people find them interesting, they will spread virally throughout Facebook, accumulating more and more users in the process. (assuming you’ve designed the application to take advantage of Facebook’s viral capabilities…more on that later).

 

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